Companies

‘Sharp'ening an India strategy

Chitra Narayanan New Delhi | Updated on March 07, 2011

Mr Sunil K. Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, India region (file photo). — PTI   -  PTI

In a bid to rejuvenate its weak performing consumer durables division, the $30-billion Japanese electronics giant Sharp Corporation is rejigging its Indian operations. It's also launching an avalanche of products, ranging from LCD TVs to microwave ovens.

To drive the change, for the first time in its close to 100-year history, it has appointed a non-Japanese to head a regional operation. In a new move, India has now been designated as a separate region by Sharp, signalling its aggressive intent here. China, incidentally, is already a region in Sharp's global operations — the other regions being America, Europe, West Asia and Africa (MEA), and Asean (which includes Oceania).

Mr Sunil K Sinha, Managing Director of Sharp Business Systems (SBS), has now been made Chief Executive Officer, India region, and will oversee all three divisions of Sharp in India. The former L&T man has steered SBS profitably ever since it started in India.

Sharp has three entities in India — the Pune-headquartered Sharp India Ltd set up in 1989, which manufactures CRT TVs and sells home appliances and other consumer durables, Sharp Software Design India, set up in 1999 that makes captive software for the company's products and Sharp Business Systems India, set up in 2000, which deals with office automation, solar products and, more recently, launched mobile phones.

Redefining roles

“It's not a merger of our three entities, but their roles are getting redefined,” clarifies Mr Sinha, in an interview with Business Line. “This is being done to give Sharp India a chance to turn around,” he explains.

Till now, Sharp India, which is a leading player globally in LCD TVs and other appliances, has been performing below par in India. In fiscal 2010, on a turnover of Rs 113.74 crore, Sharp India earned profits of barely Rs 1.6 crore, and in the fiercely competitive consumer durables sector has negligible market share.

Admits Mr Sinha, “Right now Sharp India has insignificant market share. But we are aiming at 10 per cent in two years.” The other two divisions, however, have been doing well here and overall, he says, Sharp expects to close 2011 with a turnover exceeding Rs 1,200 crore.

Sharp India was set up as a joint venture with the Pune-based Kalyani group. In April 2005, it got publicly listed when the Kalyanis divested their stake in the firm, with Sharp Corporation buying 80 per cent stake in the company and the remaining going to the public.

Asked why despite its global clout, the Sharp brand name has not cut much ice with Indian consumers, Mr Sinha blames it on the initial challenges it faced here. “During the 1990s, the Sharp brand was hijacked by an Indian company in Bangalore and the brand got released only ten years ago in an out of court settlement,” he says. Till then, Sharp was retailing under the Optonica brand name.

Also, he says, there was not much push from the company here as “In the early part of the decade Sharp globally had already switched to LCD TVs but the Indian market got ready for LCD TVs only now.”

Manufacturing resource

The plan now is to make Sharp India a major manufacturing resource not just for India but eventually to feed the Asian market. From February, it has begun making LCD TVs as well here in India. “What we are adding now in order of launches are ACs followed by refrigerators, microwave ovens, washing machines and vaccum cleaners,” says Mr Sinha.

The rollout has started and between March and April will get completed, he says.

The reorganisation process started on January 1, 2011, is expected to be completed by April 1 this year.

Published on March 07, 2011

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